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From vitriol to civility: Should parties sit together at State of the Union?

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Mamta Popat/AP

(Read caption) A boy walks past a large American flag recovered from ground zero after the 9/11 attacks, outside the entrance at the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church for the funeral of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green Thursday, Jan. 13, in Tucson, Ariz.

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Will Republicans sit with Democrats during President Obama’s State of the Union address Jan. 25?

That’s what Sen. Mark Udall (D) of Colorado is proposing. On Wednesday he called for ending the tradition whereby Democrats sit on one side of an aisle in the House chamber, where the speech occurs, while GOP members of Congress sit on the other.

In the wake of the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords many lawmakers are calling for more civil US political discourse. Sitting together might be a practical first step toward that goal, according to Senator Udall.

The traditional partisan seating divide is a “negative symbol of the divisions in Congress,” he said.

At least two other Democratic Senators have indicated they think this is a good idea, said Udall. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs made it sound like Mr. Obama might approve, too.

“Maybe not having a physical aisle separate us would be a good thing as we talk about the state of our Union,” said Gibbs.

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